This week on Tar Takes we discuss the North Carolina Tar Heels’ football win over the Pittsburgh Panthers on Saturday, if they have any shot to upset the Miami Hurricanes on Thursday and if Carolina basketball should be a top 10 team in the country.
In the NFL, we discuss the state of the Oakland Raiders and Atlanta Falcons.
And we look at the Jimmy Butler trade request from the Minnesota Timerbwolves and tell you if that was the right decision for Butler.
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The SEC remains dominant, but by a less significant margin than in previous years—they sport six teams in the top 25, while the Big 12 and ACC have five apiece and the Big Ten and Pac-12 following them up with four. USF, the poster child of the AAC, is its sole representation.
Below are official AP Poll rankings with some commentary by The JR Report.
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Alabama (52 votes)
Alabama seems to be impenetrable, although their pass defense leaves something to be desired. Anyways, the Crimson Tide deserve the top spot.
Ohio State (3 votes)
There was little debate over who should be No. 2 in the rankings. Ohio State has shown that they deserve the ranking, and they’re the favorite for the championships in many people’s minds.
Florida State (4 votes)
This wasn’t a surprising choice, but a good amount of projections had USC in the No. 3 slot. The Seminoles have an extremely strong-looking team, and they’ll be tested in Week 1 against Alabama, where the Noles are a heavy underdog.
USC (2 votes)
USC fans are undoubtedly bitter, but the placement makes sense. It will be interesting to see how their season goes, because with a relatively easier schedule than the other three teams at the top, USC has little room for error.
No surprise Clemson isn’t No. 1 coming off their championship win. In fact, the JR Report had Clemson a No. 6 behind Penn State. Clemson lost a ton of talent, including Deshaun Watson, and it will be interesting to see how well they can handle themselves after this.
If Penn State wasn’t No. 5, they deserve this ranking at least. Fans believe they should’ve gotten a chance at the playoff last year, and now they have another chance. The Nittany Lions have an all-star offense, so it isn’t hard to project them clinching a spot in the playoff.
Clearly, the AP Poll thinks that legendary coach Bob Stoops’s retirement isn’t as much a cause for concern as the JR Report does. While we have them at No. 9, the AP Poll is a little bit more generous. As it is, the offense led by quarterback Baker Mayfield is absolutely explosive.
Washington doesn’t have the toughest schedule, but they deserve this ranking for now. Time will tell if they have the strength to be a serious late-season contender, but they’ll most likely win the Pac-12.
It’s an interesting decision to put Wisconsin in front of Auburn, Michigan, and Oklahoma State. They’re a solid pick, and the AP Poll sees promise in incoming defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard. Along with a tough offense and a not-too-strenuous schedule, it will be interesting to see where the Badgers end up.
The Cowboys have created the team that might be able to take down the Sooners for the first time in three years. Although the Cowboys have a dominant offense, all signs point to them having a rather mediocre defense.
Both the AP Poll and the JR Report have Michigan hovering just outside the top 10. The Wolverines lost 18 starters, enough to scare any team, but Jim Harbaugh is a stellar recruiter and next year’s Michigan team will be exciting to watch.
The Tigers have an amazing running back duo and a reloaded defense. Is it enough to win the classic Iron Bowl? Auburn deserves a slightly higher rating—we have them at No. 10—but will quickly prove they deserve to be a top 10 team.
There’s a lot of optimism surrounding the LSU offense, with incoming offensive coordinator Matt Canada and star running back Derrius Guice. The SEC has another powerhouse this year, and LSU might contend for the conference championship.
This is a surprisingly high ranking for Stanford. The JR Report had them at No. 17, on account of the quarterback worries and some unclear aspects of their incoming team. Their defense looks strong and should come out strong in the Pac-12.
This ranking is pretty close to accurate. The Dawgs return most of their defense, and return their all-star running duo, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. They’ll be another strong contender in the SEC.
The JR Report had Louisville as No. 16 as well. Heisman winner Lamar Jackson is back to prove that he’s still relevant, but the team’s main concern is their lacking offensive line.
Yet another strong SEC coming into the year, the Gators are headed by untested quarterback Feleipe Franks. The Gators most likely will not retain a ranking in the top 20 for long, but they may just surprise us.
The Hurricanes are impressive on both sides of the ball, and their only concern is whether the quarterback replacement will be up to the task of keeping Miami relevant.
We had the Bulls at No. 18, so it seems we weren’t far off from what the AP Poll had in mind. The Bulls have a ton of talent, a new coaching staff, an underrated quarterback star, and a thirst to prove themselves.
The Wildcats have a quality quarterback and a potential to upset the big names in the Big-12 like Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
There was some ambiguity as to whether Virginia Tech would be ranked (we had them as “just missing” the top 25). The Hokies will have a tough run in a surprisingly strong ACC, but if they hold up on their end we could see them in the conference championship against FSU or Clemson.
Will Grier, the quarterback transfer from the University of Florida, is already turning heads in Morgantown. WVU is strong on the offensive side of the ball, but if they can’t keep their defense up to snuff they won’t be ranked for long.
The Longhorns have been disappointing lately, but it looks like Tom Herman has been turning it all around. We have them at No. 25, because it’s really unclear as to whether it’s all show or if we can expect great things in the next couple years.
Quarterback Luke Falk is shaping up to be a great quarterback, and the Cougars should make the game against Washington a good one. They have quality upset potential.
Tennessee has a lot of work to do if they want to climb in the rankings—not because they’re not a good team, but because the competition in the SEC East is stiff this year. We’ll see if they can challenge regional rivals Georgia and Florida.
Nicholai Babis is a lead contributor for The JR Report. For more news and JR Report updates follow him on twitter @nibabis.
The college football season draws inexorably closer, and the hype is mounting for what some are calling the season opener of the century: Alabama Crimson Tide vs Florida State Seminoles.
Most predict that the Crimson Tide will be ranked No. 1 in the AP Poll when it comes out, and most estimates put the Seminoles at either third or fourth. Regardless of their actual rankings starting out the season, nobody can deny that this will be one of the biggest games of the year.
FSU is considered the underdog coming into the contest, but you can’t rule out Jimbo Fisher’s squad and their prowess.Alabama has to wash the bad taste of their national championship loss to Clemson out of its mouth, while FSU has to prove they have what it takes to be considered for the CFB playoffs. Although the game isn’t the end of the world for the loser, it shows the college football world who the clear powerhouse will be for much of the season. Whoever wins will have one of their hardest-fought victories of the entire season out of the way early.
Alabama has to wash the bad taste of their national championship loss to Clemson out of its mouth, while FSU has to prove they have what it takes to be considered for the CFB playoffs. Although the game isn’t the end of the world for the loser, it shows the college football world who the clear powerhouse will be for much of the season. Whoever wins will have one of their hardest-fought victories of the entire season out of the way early.
Here’s some ways that either team can win.
Why Alabama will win
Alabama is a clear favorite to win this one in many people’s minds. The Alabama team is as powerful as ever, and Saban’s incoming recruiting class is one of his best.
The Tide bring in running back Najee Harris, a 6-foot-2, 224 pound powerhouse. They also bring in 5-star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, a native Hawaiian who some say might be able to challenge Jalen Hurts for quarterback dominance. Along with these two guys, the Alabama team brings in a whole slew of other talent.
As far as opening games go, Nick Saban has a pretty hard record to beat at Alabama. In fact, he hasn’t lost a single one and is 10-0. Additionally, the Crimson Tide don’t just have history on their side: their defense is the best in the nation every year.
If this is the case, FSU is going to have a hard time getting anything through the Alabama line. Unless the incoming FSU offensive talent is as good as it can be, the Tide defense is going to keep the Seminoles to quite a low score during the game. Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick makes a case for being one of the best in the league at his position, and this game gives him the perfect opportunity to show what he’s got.
In addition, there are still some questions surrounding the FSU offense. The team still isn’t 100 percent clear who they’re fielding at running back, and much of their receiving corps is untrained.
This year there is much to be said about the 2017 Tide offense. Although a lot of it is hype, Jalen Hurts has matured since we saw him last. He has another offseason under his belt and has a great offensive unit to back him up once again. The offense has a lot going for it, but will it be enough in the face of FSU’s surprisingly strong defense?
Why Florida State will win
Last year’s FSU team would have lost to last year’s Alabama team. This year, however, it’s a lot more difficult to make the same argument. Although many do not want to get their hopes up, FSU’s team this year has the chance to bring down Alabama.
The hopes and dreams of the Nole nation ride not on the offense, but on the defense: specifically, on safety Derwin James. He’s being hyped up by virtually every college football commentator, and it’s easy to see why. In his true freshman season back in 2015, James racked up 91 tackles with 4.5 sacks. Last season, he was injured for all but two games.
If he lives up to the hype, he might very well stop Jalen Hurts and his offense in their tracks. Along with the rest of the Seminole defense, James will own the night when they go up against Alabama.
A victory from the Seminoles also comes down to how well quarterback Deondre Francois can deliver. He’s top ten in almost all “Heisman prediction” lists, and is predicted as being one of next year’s best quarterbacks.
Against Alabama, who has put up an iron grid against run plays, effective passing is a must.
The FSU defense is up to the challenge, but is the offense?
The winner is…
Alabama. It’s hard to predict against them, and this time FSU just doesn’t have the steam. It’ll be a close game, but Francois won’t be able to locate his targets often enough. It’s the season opener, his first chance of the season to test his chops, and it’s against the best team in the nation.
In the end, the Crimson Tide can perform just a bit better offensively in spite of FSU’s defense.
Alabama 14 FSU 10
For a more in-depth analysis of the game, check back on the JR Report a couple days before the big game.
Nicholai Babis is a lead contributor for The JR Report. For more news and JR Report updates follow him on twitter @nibabis.
Almost every Heisman race is a tight one, with few exceptions. This year’s Heisman Trophy race will prove to be no different. There are the several obvious candidates that will shine as well as some dark horse candidates with a realistic shot at winning.
Despite the plethora of contenders, there are a couple of names that top every list of betting odds to win the Heisman. Sam Darnold, Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield and J.T. Barrett top almost every list.
Also frequenting the lists are names like Mason Rudolph, Deondre Francois and Saquon Barkley. The list goes on with the ever-exciting dark horse candidates such as Quinton Flowers and Cam Akers.
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Here are the reasons why each of the top four players has what it takes to bring home the trophy.
Sam Darnold — QB, USC
Although it’s definitely early, Sam Darnold emerges as the clear favorite for the Heisman crown. His name has been on everyone’s radar since the second half of last season, when he won USC’s last nine games and won the Rose Bowl for the Trojans.
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In his starting season, Darnold threw for 3,086 yards, completed 67.2 percent of his 366 attempted passes and threw for 31 touchdowns. This is an impressive feat on its own and it becomes even more impressive when one considers that he only threw nine interceptions throughout the entire season.
As a relatively inexperienced quarterback, these numbers spoke to Darnold’s poise on the field and natural talent at his position.
Add Darnold’s talent to USC’s less-than-tough schedule and he’s a recipe for Heisman success.
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In addition, Louisville may be looking towards some tough times. Their schedule isn’t easy and they lost many of their key starters.
If Jackson wants to take his team to glory, he will have to shoulder even more responsibility, but one should not discount him as he is one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in history.
Baker Mayfield — QB, Oklahoma
One can’t have a 2017 Heisman discussion without talking about Baker Mayfield.
Mayfield transferred from Texas Tech to Oklahoma after the 2013 season, sat out a year, and then entered the fray. In 2015 and 2016, he had standout seasons passing for 3,700 yards in 2015 and 3,965 the following year. What’s more impressive is his deadly accuracy—he had a 70.9 percent completion rate in 2016 while only throwing eight interceptions.
The Oklahoma quarterback is a favored runner-up for the Heisman and for good reason. He’s poised for another breakout year, but some have misgivings because of the departure of Bob Stoops and some key players on the Sooners’ offense.
However, the offensive line is shaping up to be one of Oklahoma’s best. That kind of protection will give Mayfield plenty of time to make his way to the Heisman podium.
J.T. Barrett — QB, Ohio State
The college football fan won’t hear nearly as much Heisman hype around Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett, but a good case can be made for the Buckeye.
Many expected Barrett to have a breakout year in 2016, but he didn’t deliver. While he threw for 2,555 yards and 24 touchdowns, these stats weren’t quite up to snuff to be seriously considered for the trophy. This season, however, oddsmakers think that he’ll transform into one of the top candidates.
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The secret is in the new additions to the OSU squad. The Buckeyes come into the season with new offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson and quarterbacks coach Ryan Day.
Will Urban Meyer’s star break his Heisman drought and take home the trophy? He has a lot of competition and will need Ohio State to stay on top of the rankings all year.
There are several more candidates who deserve serious consideration for the trophy, but one thing is clear about this upcoming year. It will be an exciting race to the finish line. Whoever wants to win the Trophy will have to put up record numbers to even be considered.
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Led by Sam Darnold, quarterback and Heisman contender, USC is one of the favorites to win the college football title. Here’s what needs to happen for the Trojans to take home the title this upcoming season.
It seemed like USC was going to have one of the worst seasons in the program’s history this past season. They lost 52-6 to Alabama in their season opener, and won only one of their first four games (Utah State).
The Trojans bounced back, though, and didn’t lose a single game the rest of the season, finishing at 10-3.
Biggest obstacle: Schedule strength
If they’re going to contend for a title, USC could definitely have issues with their schedule strength–it’s just not hard enough. Being in the Pac-12 was useful last year as they were only challenged in a few of their games, allowing them to climb in the standings despite a rough start.
The Trojans have to stay on top of their game the whole season and beat (most likely) Washington in order to contend for the title.
Quarterback excellence, with a little help
USC is looking to dominate on offense next season. It starts with Darnold, who totaled 3086 yards on 246 completions, and threw for 31 touchdowns with only nine interceptions last season.
Considering he didn’t start until the team’s fourth game and threw for over 3,000 yards, USC’s offense looks rock solid. Darnold also threw for 453 yards in the Rose Bowl. Barring any abnormalities, he will continue to play well.
An outstanding O-line did play a huge role in his success last season, though, and the Trojans lost three of their best linemen to the draft. Zach Banner went to the Colts, Damien Mama to the Chiefs, and Chad Wheeler to the Giants.
One of USC’s top priorities is to replace these guys. So far, it looks like they’re doing a good job of it. The Trojans have four O-line players poised to take over: four-star offensive tackle Austin Jackson, four-star offensive tackle Alijah Vera-Tucker, and four-star center Brett Neilon.
If this new class can pick up where Banner, Mama, and Wheeler left off, Darnold will have all the help he needs. Also, if Darnold does slip up for some reason, four-star recruit Jack Sears will be right behind him.
The Trojans are returning an outstanding group of backs, and there’s some new talent coming in, too.
Rising junior running back Ronald Jones II was the team’s best option last year, running for 1,082 yards and 12 touchdowns. He hopes to retain the starter position this year in face of incoming five-star running back Stephen Carr.
A California native, Carr is the third ranked RB recruit in the nation. The two will make an imposing duo. Dominic Davis and Aca’Cedric Ware, who supplemented Jones well last year, are returning, too.
Outstanding recruiting class
Excluding the run game and the O-line, USC has an all around good recruit class.
The Trojans defense is shaping up to be much better than last year’s, which was ranked No. 36 in total defense.
This season, they recruited five four-star players to strength their defense, including DTs Marlon Tuipulotu and Jay Tufele.
The other big recruiting story besides Carr is five-star receiver Joseph Lewis IV. Lewis indicated his desire to play at USC in January on Twitter. If he clicks with Darnold, the Trojans will have some formidable offensive firepower.
Why USC will win the national title game
Many are projecting USC as an outside candidate for the playoffs this year, and their reasons are sound. USC’s schedule isn’t nearly as hard as some of the other contenders.
If the Trojans can dominate their conference, though, they should maintain a strong position in the rankings. If they beat Stanford, Texas, Notre Dame, and Colorado, they’ll be hard to ignore.
Darnold is a top contender for the Heisman. Supplemented by some amazing running and receiving talent, he should be unstoppable.
While the Trojans aren’t my top choice for the title, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them win it. They will definitely make the playoffs over Washington this year.
Imagine you wake up with missed calls from colleges around the country offering you a football scholarship. You’re seventeen, and after long practices, extra sprints, and constant training, you’ve finally become the best. Despite coming from a low-income household with a single mom, universities are calling with stronger educations than you ever could’ve imagined. What’s left is conquering college football to make the NFL.
This process is a reality for many high school athletes like former University of Southern California running back Reggie Bush. Once he chose USC, Bush became one of the most talented college football players ever. He could do it all: return punts and kickoffs, run over anyone, and score touchdowns. With 1740 rushing yards and 478 receiving yards, Bush became the Heisman Trophy winner in 2005 as a junior.
But he also became the target of agents hoping to sign him for the big money in the NFL. As Bush gained fame, an ex-convict friend of his stepfather, Lloyd Lake, decided that he wanted to become a sports agent. Lake gave Bush’s stepfather a home and Bush a used car to guarantee Bush’s business when he reached the NFL.
Bush, however, failed to realize that this interaction with Lake was problematic. When he realized Lake wouldn’t be a good choice of an agent, he refused to sign with Lake, causing Lake to turn him in for receiving illegal gifts.
USC then got charged by the NCAA with “lack of institutional control” for failing either to be aware of Bush’s gifts or to stop Bush’s interactions with Lake. The school received one of the worst set of sanctions in college football history that destroyed the football team for six years. Reggie Bush, among talk of its removal, returned his Heisman. There is no winner of the 2005 trophy.
There’s no denying Bush’s accountability, but how much control did he have over the situation?
Bush’s scholarship, from the NCAA’s perspective, was a way to broaden the reach of higher education and to open up opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise be accessible. Scholarships are meant to prepare football players for the NFL but also give them the education that prepares them for a successful life outside of football.
Universities, however, are able to cheat football players out of a quality education in exchange for the profit of a star athlete. Thus, many argue that college athletes should be receiving some sort of monetary compensation for their contribution to the university. Universities and the NCAA are making millions of dollars off of the skills that young, often uneducated or underprivileged children bring to the field.
Young athletes are often given “perks” that make it easier to cut corners on their education; football players aren’t even required to graduate. Because of how much wealth and fame an exciting player like Reggie Bush generates, universities, coaches, and athletic directors are more successful when the players spend as much time as possible on the field.
For players, this means receiving more detailed information about what will appear on exams, taking the bare minimum of class requirements, and taking the easiest classes the school has to offer. The players are set up with football as a primary concern and education as a small hoop to jump through when aiming for the NFL. Without quality education, athletes are more vulnerable to immoral actions, and there’s more pressure to make it in the NFL.
Setting up players for the NFL would be great if most of them had a shot in the first place.
Less than 2% of college football players play in the NFL, and of that 2%, the average career is only five years. Five years in the NFL is, in most cases, an insufficient income to support those players and their families for the rest of their lives. Desperately needing money that they might not be able to get, college football players are especially vulnerable to offers by sports agents that promise them security.
Another factor in the Bush case is his age. At twenty-years-old, he was expected to be making huge moral decisions regarding the wealth of himself and his family while surrounded by adults who should’ve protected him. Lloyd Lake knew that he was giving illegal gifts and trapping Bush in a no-win situation. Lake preyed on Bush’s financial need in order to propel himself into a new career.
“Lack of institutional control” is without a doubt applicable to an institution suppressing rule-breaking actions in the name of maintaining profit. Garrett and Carroll should’ve been the moral guides for Bush, helping him not only to develop into a great football player but also into a great student and person. They should’ve protected him from a semi-fraudulent agent instead of allowing him to be manipulated for their own personal gain.
The truth is that Garrett and Carroll had nothing to lose in the situation. In all likeliness, Bush would be gone before he was caught. Thus, those two would get the glory of training one of the best college football players in history and developing one of the most formidable college football teams ever. Plus, the NCAA sanctions came down on the school and Bush. That means that the faculty, students, and other players, who had no way to prevent Bush from receiving the money, were punished.
While the USC family spent seven years dealing with a tarnished name and a compromised athletic program, Carroll was signing a $33 million contract and bringing his NFL team to a Super Bowl title. Carroll left USC just before the news of Bush’s illegal interactions came out, leaving many wondering whether or not that was the reason he left.
How does the NCAA justify punishing a university and one of its players?
Especially when the people at fault go on to be virtually unaffected. Carroll became more famous and more wealthy, in part, because he exploited Reggie Bush.
The NCAA should be doing their part in protecting players by incentivizing athletic directors and coaches to guide their players rather than take advantage of them.
What if, instead of Bush and an innocent student body, the man responsible was punished for violating NCAA policies?
If the NCAA set sanctions on coaches and athletic directors that turned a blind eye to wrongdoings, men such as Pete Carroll would have no reason to ignore the payment of their athletes because they would directly face the consequences.
Would the Seattle Seahawks have hired Carroll if he came with a postseason ban, fines, and a limit on skilled players?
This system drives college football players into the arms of greedy agents only to leave the victimized athletes and innocent students and fans dealing with its repercussions. So, who’s to blame? Protection from this system is the reason the NCAA, college coaches, and university athletic directors exist in the first place: to protect morality and students instead of profit and fame.
Lane Kiffin is primed and ready to be a head coach once again. This time, it’ll be at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida.
In a new interview with SiriusXM College Sports Nation, Kiffin made it clear that his tenure at FAU will have a much different tone than his last job. As offensive coordinator for the Alabama Crimson Tide, Kiffin was famously chewed out by Alabama head coach Nick Saban on multiple occasions.
This is a direct dig on Saban, who’s style focuses on yelling at his coaching staff to get results.
The world of college football is interested in seeing what Kiffin can do with a young team like the Owls. Earlier this year, the JR Report wrote a piece on his new job in Boca. Now, with the season coming up, it’ll be interesting to see if he can follow through with the hype.
Kiffin said that instead of yelling at his coaches, “I write down notes. In the staff meeting, I explain what we want to get done.”
It remains to be seen whether his coaching style will yield the same kinds of results. Florida Atlantic hasn’t been to a bowl game since 2008—they haven’t even been above .500 since 2008—and Kiffin will have to fight an uphill battle to get them where he wants them to be.
According to a lawsuit, Briles once asked a recruit ”do you like white women? Because we have a lot of them at Baylor and they love football players.” He also apparently brought recruits to strip clubs and offered them alcohol.
Kiffin isn’t a stranger to controversy, but he also isn’t afraid of making bold decisions. His coaching style may be different than Saban’s for the coming years. but it remains to be seen whether they’ll be more effective.
Florida State safety Derwin James isn’t a name that you hear often in college football; he hasn’t been relevant since 2015.
In the 2015 season, the safety was named to the freshman all-american team by several news outlets after clocking 91 tackles with 9.5 for loss, 2 forced fumbles, and 4.5 sacks. He looked to be on the upward trend for Heisman consideration by his sophomore year.
Early last season against Charleston Southern, James tore his meniscus forcing him to miss the last 11 games of the season.
The Florida native is ready to play for the Seminoles this upcoming season and is already considered a Heisman candidate, according to Pro Football Focus.
He would be the first defensive player to win the Heisman since 1997, when Michigan cornerback Charles Woodson won it. Woodson went on to play for the Oakland Raiders and the Green Bay Packers, before retiring in 2015.
After being out an extended period of time with the injury, James is excited to get back in the game, per his own twitter page.
I'm Finally back can't wait to get back out there with my brothers again #Spring Ready #NoleNation
James excels in every aspect on defense, making him a strong force for the 2017 season. Florida State is looking to prove that they deserve to be in the national title conversation again, after not having been to the championship since 2013.
It seems like the impossible has happened: Alabama lost a national championship. I was shocked, to the point where I had already written an anticipatory article about Bama’s win in the National Championship game.
Next year, however, I can’t see any other teams winning. Bama’s recruiting class has an incredible amount of talent coming in including 7 of the top 40 players in the nation. They have five “5-star” recruits that have already enrolled at the university—on the offensive side, Najee Harris (RB), Alex Leatherwood (OT), Dylan Moses (OLB), Jerry Jeudy (WR), and Tua Tagovailoa (QB/DUAL). Tagovailoa is an excellent quarterback, and Bama may have an interesting dual threat with Jalen Hurts–only a sophomore–and Tagovailoa.
The QB situation must be watched closely, because some would say having two quarterbacks is equal to having none. Who will they start? Will they move either of the versatile players to another position? Until very recently I would check up on the Sarkisian’s past, but of course the Tide just lost him–this raises another important question: who will replace him, and how will they handle this offensive conundrum? It’ll be interesting to watch this develop, because it most definitely has implications for how well the Tide play this season.
Defensively, they have also picked up LaBryan Ray, who has signed a letter of intent.
Let this sink in: these are only the 5-star recruits. They have countless other players in the recruiting class that are performing better than anyone in high school football and should show a lot of promise going into next season.
If anyone was to take a look at the recruiting classes from other top teams, they will realize that Bama absolutely dominated this year. Clemson, the defending national champions, only picked up two top-40 players. They still have a talented squad returning, but it will be without their heart and soul from last season, Deshaun Watson.
Ohio State has the 2nd best recruiting class with 5 top 40 players coming in this year. In addition, the greatness of Urban Meyer and an increase in motivation from their recent disaster in Glendale (losing 31-0 to Clemson in the semi-final), they should prove to be the biggest threat to Alabama’s title hopes.
Remember, Nick Saban is one of the best coaches in history, and he excels in molding recruits into the best players they can be. The Tide’s team cohesion is the envy of all of college football, and with these new recruits to bolster their ranks, they could prove unstoppable.
Alabama is also retaining a good amount of their very talented team from last year. The first name that comes to mind is Jalen Hurts, who wowed everyone with his poise and clear-headedness at the age of 18 by driving down the field to score the go ahead touchdown with just over 2 minutes left against Clemson and throwing 0 interceptions in the game. He played like a champion all season, and it is not hard to believe that he will continue to improve.
For the sake of brevity I won’t go into every impact player that’s staying on the team, but suffice to say that they’ll be formidable next year.
Clemson, FSU, USC, Oklahoma, and Ohio State should all expect to have great seasons (Washington and Penn State not so much). If Alabama can overcome the first hurdle, a season opener against the Seminoles, they’ll be right on track. Realistically, a loss wouldn’t eliminate them from the college football playoff, but it would put them in a hole forcing them to win out to insure their spot in the playoffs.
However, a win against FSU would provide the perfect confidence boost for Alabama to go on a tear throughout the entire season and win the 2018 National Championship.